Manufacturing in and around South Jersey is on the rise, according to the latest survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and firms expect business will continue to increase over the next six months.
The bank polls manufacturers in southern New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware every month. In July, nearly 40 percent of firms reported an increase in business, and the diffusion index of current activity — the survey's broadest measure of manufacturing conditions — increased from 12.5 percent in June to 19.8, which is the highest reading in more than two years.
About 52 percent of the firms polled reported they expect an increase in business over the next six months, compared to 45 percent in June. The percentage of firms that expect to add jobs in the next six months also increased to 41 percent, from just 33 percent in June.
The demand for manufactured goods in the area also remains strong, according to the survey, and about 76 percent of firms said prices for the products they make are holding steady.
"The numbers were pretty strong," said Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers.
Moutray said the industry has seen some lackluster data recently, but the past few months have marked a slight and welcome rebound.
"It certainly points to progress being made in the manufacturing sector and to improvements being made from where we were in the spring," Moutray said. "We're optimistic that manufacturers will have a better second half than they had in the first."
Reporter Mary Johnson is @mjohns422 on Twitter.